Two Belly Bubs
A birth story by a beautiful mum. Thank you for sharing. M x
Last year I moved to Toowoomba with two belly bubs. Lots of wise people told me our future would be busy and life would be hard, and that I would need as much support as I could get. I thought this meant family, so I moved to be closer to my mum. We have rented a house in the middle of nowhere but mum lives around the corner. The babies’ dad is not with us.
My babies were born at 36 weeks because I had pre eclampsia. I really didn’t want to have a cesarean and I was scared, so our midwife came with us. The babies went straight to the special care nursery and I couldn’t see them until later that night. I think maybe if my midwife wasn’t there, it might have been longer before I could see them. I felt terrible but all I wanted was my babies. For days and days I had to wait for someone to let me hold them and ask to be able to feed them. Remembering this makes me sad – most of the time I try to forget and pretend I picked the babies out of a cabbage patch. I hope that when they are older I can tell them the real story without crying so much. We stayed in hospital a long time, I can’t remember how long but I think two weeks. It took a long time for the babies to put some weight on, and they had to do this so that we could go home. Also they were worried about my blood pressure still being so high, I have always believed it has stayed high because I have stayed stressed. It feels like trauma. Since this time I have read lots of stories from people whose babies were born much earlier than mine, and spent much longer in special care or a NICU. We are lucky. I was happy to meet the babies and I love them so, but I still felt sad.
When we finally got home it was quite scary to be on my own with two little babies. It might be normal for being a new mum, and a single mum, I’m not sure because this is all I have known. My mum came in at night for the first two nights but we were still on our own. There were lots of things I didn’t do – I missed my daughters first bath, I didn’t take any photos of them for about three weeks, I didn’t notice my son had eyelashes for a very long time. I struggled to juggle them in to positions to feed or burp or cuddle them both at the same time. We all had to sit together in the one spot because if I fed one baby and the other needed me, there was nobody to pass me the baby. I can never remember how old they are and I often confuse who did what and when or if it even happened. Everything was very busy and yet I still found lots of time for ‘quietness’ to admire their sleepy little bodies curled up together.
In the early days I am pretty sure the midwives came every day. I also made a new friend; the lovely lady who helped me feed the babies by donating some of her breast milk to us every morning. Because my friends are mostly living and working in Brisbane, these visitors were so important. My house was full of beautiful babies but it was nice to be connected with the real world, otherwise days would have passed without me seeing other adults. The first few weekends were full of people but gradually it has slowed down. I guess relationships also change when you become a mumma, the people I thought would be there are not. Other than a few visits I have not had much help from my family, especially since the babies were a few weeks old. There are surprises too though, some of my older friends have been so lovely and I am also making new friends. The friends that I am valuing most are the ones that actually help and support me, rather than just cuddling babies.
It is really hard to do anything with twin babies and very little help. The places we go are the doctors, the chiro and My Midwives. We can’t go to a shopping centre without help, and even then I hesitate. There are many shops that I just can’t fit the pram through, for example, we have never been able to go inside the post office. It is also difficult to find somewhere to feed both babies at the same time; I really need a couch to position them. They are fed on demand and because I am always struggling with milk supply they seem to always want to feed, we have spent anywhere between 16 to 20 hours a day breastfeeding. When getting out of the car I can’t get them both out without having to strap one to my chest, we always need a stroller but they always both want to be held. I always want to hold them too, baby carriers have come in handy. We have been grocery shopping about three times and I have now given up. Trying to push a trolley, amuse one baby, breastfeed the other and buy groceries is just too hard. We now buy everything online and I welcome the Australia Post parcel guy in to our home almost everyday. On some days he is the only person I talk to, he is friendly and really loves the babies. Last week we did go to the shopping centre, and we could only do it by stopping in at My Midwives first to have a feed and then walk down the street. I also had a really lovely helper with me, together we were positive that things would get better.
You might wonder why I continue to breastfeed when it is sometimes a struggle. Breastfeeding is important to us, I believe it is the best option for my babies’ health and wellbeing. My boobs are magic and solve a multitude of problems with very little effort; they must be like a superpower for single twin mummas. I have done so many things to build enough milk to feed Hamilton and Daisy, and even now I am not feeding them all with my own breast milk. I will try very hard not to give up on this because I think it also improves my wellbeing, something that is sometimes suffering. I spent lots of time at uni learning about children’s development and parenting, but since I’ve become a mumma I’ve discovered Attachment Parenting is the style that fits best with us. It means that things like breastfeeding, baby wearing and co sleeping are important. Having time away from each other is not important. Sometimes it might not look so practical with two babies and one mumma, but it works for us.
As much as the three of us are enjoying our time together, there are days and moments when we have an unwelcome visitor hang around us too. I could call it sadness, depression or anxiety but I prefer to call it Mabel, the person who outsays her welcome way too often. It also makes me feel as though she is separate from me and easier to get rid of. On the days when Mabel visits, I begin and end the day with tears. I try to keep my tears for when the babies are asleep but she is horrid and has some particularly good tactics to make me cry when the babies are awake too. She tries hard to keep me from remembering the good moments and all my dreams for our future. She loves to be around when I am tired, on nights where it feels like I have just finished feeding one baby when the next begins crying for food. I have asked her to leave and I am hoping that one day she will. Until she does, I must find ways to keep positive.
Things like Facebook have become very important to me, I can interact with all my virtual friends whilst I am sitting on the couch feeding. I write to my best friend every day. I am in groups for twin single parents, twin breastfeeding, twin baby wearing, babies born in November and attachment parents in Brisbane. I am excited to move back to Brisbane in August and share the babies with my friends. I had forgotten about the family of friends I had built around me before I panicked and moved to be with my blood family. I am grateful for many things here, for lovely midwives and beautiful people I have met. I am disappointed by my family though; I thought the help we planned when I was pregnant would look much, much different.
I must finish by saying that there are many nice things about having twins. The first time the babies looked at each other while they were each feeding from a boob was pretty cool. The past few weeks they seem to really notice one another, in the morning they have huge smiles for me and for each other. When we do go out there are often people who are really helpful, like opening doors for us and picking up things I drop or leave behind. Everybody wants to look and thinks they are cute, although mostly this gets annoying and slows us down, so I cover their stroller with a muslin so nobody can see. Sometimes they play with each other, roll in to each other or kick each other in the head, which causes dramas but I think it’s funny. A few times my baby girl has confused her brother’s bald head with one of my breasts, and tried to breastfeed from him. Lately also they have started holding hands, that is really sweet!
They are hard to care for but not hard to love! J